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A Guide To Academic Writing: How To Select And Narrow Down Essay Topics


Choosing a good essay topic will help you create an outstanding paper and improve your grades. However, this isn’t an easy thing to do. If you want to succeed with this quest, you need to understand what defines a good essay topic.

  • A good essay topic is original.
  • Please note the difference between original and unique. It is almost impossible to find a topic that is truly unique, especially if you need to write a school-level paper. You can solve this problem with developing an original approach to the subject that has already been studied by others. Bear in mind that you will need to do some preliminary research to learn the topics that have already been explored.

  • Choose the topic based on the material you’ve covered in class.
  • In order to create a good essay, you need to know what you are writing about. It will take a lot of time to study something completely new, so you should choose from the subjects you’ve already covered in class.

  • Write about something interesting to you personally.
  • When you are passionate about the topic, the paper you create will be more interesting and vibrant. This is an effect that cannot be faked, so it’s always better to write about the subjects that appeal to you personally.

Too Broad or Too Narrow?

The biggest problem with topics is that rather often students choose interesting but unsuitable ones because they don’t understand the interdependence of the topic and required word count. This may result in a paper where the topic is too narrow, so after it’s completely covered, the writer has to add some filler content to meet the size requirements. On the other hand, when the topic is too broad, you will not be able to cover it fully and the essay will seem superfluous or incomplete.

To avoid this problem, you should do some preliminary research of the subject. This will allow you to understand it better and assess the approximate size of the paper suitable to cover any chosen topic. This will make it easier for you to pick one that seemingly meets the requirements.

Next, you need to make your topic specific. For example, if the subject that interests you is “Polio epidemics of the 20th century”, it is definitely far too wide for an essay. To narrow it down, you need to specify the location and time period. If the paper you need to write is small, you should focus on one particular aspect of this social tragedy. In the end, your topic should look something like this “Social reforms of the 1960s brought on by the polio epidemics”.

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